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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Media reports suggest high rates of gambling amongst professional footballers but little is known about how footballers develop and then seek help for gambling problems. Here, we report the findings of in-depth, qualitative interviews with 11 British professional footballers who had, or who were, being treated for gambling problems at a residential clinic. These individuals experienced gambling as a highly salient feature of life as a professional football player in UK professional leagues. Often gambling began as part of social networks of young players, but then progressed to gambling problematically in isolation. Factors that facilitated this transition included structural aspects of professional football as an occupation (e.g. high salaries, spare time, gambling as a shared leisure pursuit) as well as the competitive and emotional challenges of the game (e.g. loss of form, injury or contract release and their effects upon mood). Seeking help was delayed by a reluctance to disclose problems to peers and club managers, but facilitated by recommendations from other players with similar experiences.

Original publication




Journal article


Addiction Research and Theory

Publication Date





129 - 138